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New cancer 'bullet' treatment can halt tumour growth

CANCER BREAKTHROUGH: A new cancer treatment used in conjunction with chemotherapy has halted the growth of tumours

THERE ARE hopes a new 'cancer bullet' could offer hope to patients suffering with the deadly disease.

The new 'bullet' treatment has shown significant success in halting the growth of tumours, reported Sky News.

The use of tiny radioactive beads, called microspheres, has helped to stunt tumour growth in patients whose cancer has spread from the bowel to the liver.

Treatment using the microspheres in conjunction with chemotherapy has halted the growth of tumours for eight months longer than with just chemotherapy alone.

In some cases, the tumours have disappeared altogether.

Bowel cancer often spreads to the liver because a lot of blood passes directly between the two.

The size and location of subsequent tumours makes it difficult to remove them surgically and conventional radiotherapy cannot be used in the liver.

This is overcome by the new treatment, called radioembolisation, in which millions of tiny radioactive microspheres - also known as SIR-spheres - are injected directly into the same blood vessels that supply the tumours with oxygen and nutrients.

These microspheres, which are a third of the diameter of the human hair in size, cause the tumour to shrink or disappear with minimal damage to healthy tissue.

When the microspheres were added to chemotherapy treatment, participants in the study experienced a halt in tumour growth of 20.5 months.

This amounted to an additional 7.9 months compared to chemotherapy treatment alone.

Cancer which has spread from the bowel to the liver currently kills around 90 per cent of patients suffering from the disease in the UK.

Dr Harpreet Wasan, a consultant oncologist at Hammersmith Hospital in London, said: "Oncologists are only now beginning to recognise that treating liver metastases directly by integrating local approaches, as well as systematically (with cancer drugs) is more effective in the management of this difficult-to-treat cancer and may also open up the possibility of potentially curative liver surgery in some previously inoperable cases."

"The results of this study show that the effect of SIR-spheres on slowing the growth of liver cancer tumours within the liver is quite pronounced.

"This is the first significant trial to show the effectiveness of SIR-spheres used early alongside the current standard of chemotherapy care."

Wasan continued: "In time, if this is reflected in clinical practice, we may be able to stall the disease for much longer in a vital organ at an earlier stage of disease than we do currently with chemotherapy alone.

"We hope that this gain also translates into an overall survival benefit as tumours are treated more aggressively earlier on in the course of the disease."

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